Simon Cowell Gets Candid About Replacing Cheryl Cole On ‘The X Factor’: I Knew I Would ‘Get Slaughtered’

As the countdown to Simon Cowell’s highly anticipated US version of “The X Factor” begins, the reality mogul has opened up about what went wrong between him and Cheryl Cole, and why she left show prematurely.

“I came to the conclusion that [Cheryl] may not be as comfortable [in America] because I was seeing a different person,” Simon told The Hollywood Reporter of the UK beauty’s confidence stateside, in an interview for THR’s latest issue. “She was like Princess Diana when she would walk out in England, and I accepted the fact that people didn’t know her here, but I think it did have an effect on her.”

After witnessing Cheryl’s timid on-camera demeanor during the first two days of filming, Simon gave her a call.

“I said: ‘Cheryl, you’ve got to raise your game a bit,’” he told THR of his conversation with Cheryl. “’This is America, it’s a much tougher market.’”

After discussing a possible return to the UK show for Cheryl and a seven-figure pay raise, Simon said he thought they were close to working out a deal.

“We had gotten to the point where she wanted my dressing room,” he said, adding that Cheryl never responded to his final offer.

While the former “American Idol” judge faced loads of criticism for his decision to replace Cheryl with Nicole Scherzinger (who had originally been tapped to co-host the show with Steve Jones), he said as “The X Factor’s” producer, it was his responsibility to make the tough call.

“I wouldn’t be doing my job as a producer if I didn’t do what was right for my shows. I stand by the decisions I’ve made, and I knew the implications when I did it publicly — that I was going to get slaughtered, and I did,” he told THR, of his decision to add the former Pussycat Dolls frontwoman to his panel of judges alongside L.A. Reid and Paula Abdul. “You’re not drowning puppies here. You’re offering someone who’s got millions of dollars more money and more work.

“And if people think that’s cruel, then they can do that to me on a daily basis,” he added. “I’ll take it twice a day.”

The blunt Brit also revealed he expects an average audience of 20 million viewers per week for his new show, and balked at other reality competitions’ prize money.

“That’s boring,” Simon — whose “X Factor” winner will receive a $5 million recording contract — said of other show’s smaller prizes. “This is Hollywood.”

Read the full interview with Simon when The Holllywood Reporter hits newsstands on Thursday.

“The X Factor” premieres on September 21 on FOX.

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